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GAL vs Social Investigators

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    GAL vs Social Investigators.  Have you ever wondered what they are or what the difference is? If you are involved in a custody case you may want to think about one of these options. Here is some general information about them.


    A Guardian Ad Litem is a someone the court can appoint that would meet with the parties, the child(ren), witnesses, review documents and participate in the court proceeding.  Pursuant to Florida Statute 61.403 “[a] guardian ad litem when appointed shall act as next friend of the child, investigator or evaluator, not as attorney or advocate but shall act in the child’s best interest.”

    The Guardian Ad Litem would file a report with the Court and provide copies of the same to both parties or their counsel that spells out their investigation, findings and recommendations.  Depending on what the court ordered them to discuss is what their focus and recommendation would address.  A lot of times, they are asked to make recommendations with regards to the following topics: Parental Responsibility, Time Sharing, Parenting Plan recommendations and relocation if that is an issue.  For more information on Guardian Ad Litem please review Florida Statute 61.403.


    Instead of a GAL a party can request a social investigator be appointed. Pursuant to Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.364 “[w]hen the issue of timesharing, parental responsibility, ultimate decision-making, or a parenting plan for a minor child is in controversy, the court, on motion of any party or the court’s own motion, may appoint an investigator under section 61.20, Florida Statutes.”

    The Social Investigator is similar to a GAL in that they meet with the parties, child(ren), witnesses, review documents etc and make recommendations to the court.  There is one big difference though and that is the Social Investigators report comes in as evidence and the Judge can consider the same.  Pursuant to Florida Statute 61.20 “[t]he court may consider the information contained in the study in making a decision on the parenting plan, and the technical rules of evidence do not exclude the study from consideration.”

    If you find yourself in the middle of a custody dispute and need an Orlando Custody Family Law Attorney please contact Orlando Custody Attorney Michael Ferrin or Victoria Anderson at 407-412-7041 for your free consultation or CLICK HERE.